Naomi: Pilot

Look, up the sky! It’s a hoax! It’s a publicity stunt! It’s a cosplayer with a jetpack?

DC’s Arrowverse has been expanding for years now. Even as some shows have come to an end, some of the characters continue on, either via off-screen mentions or actual appearances on other shows. Now, they’re going in a different direction, with a show starring Naomi. Naomi is different from the other headliners in many ways. She’s a Black female, she’s not well known outside comics (or even inside them), and she’s a recent creation, first appearing in 2019. While she so far doesn’t have a codename or costume, she does have a proud comic book heritage: her last name is McDuffie, a tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, who created Static and most of the other Milestone characters, as well as working on many shows in the DC Animated Universe.

While I know a great deal about comic books and superheroes, Naomi is one of the characters I have limited exposure to. So I’ll be learning more about her as the series goes, and, unlike many Arrowverse shows or other DC projects, I won’t know when they diverge significantly from her comic book history. For that matter, there’s some debate about whether this series is in the Arrowverse at all, but, as we saw in Crisis on Infinite Earths, even if it’s not, it may still be connected in some way.

The show opens with Naomi herself narrating her origin, giving some interesting hints at things to come. Then we see her going about her life, and she’s unlike most heroes as they start off. She’s not tragic, isolated, a loner, or an outcast. She’s attractive, popular, and seems to have a wide variety of friends. While she’s at a party with a lot her contemporaries, we learn that she runs a Superman fan site, but he’s… fictional. Considering she not only is on the same network as the Arrowverse, but on the same night as Superman and Lois, that’s an interesting twist. She gets in a lot of banter with a few people, and then, come morning, we see that her parents, despite being military, are remarkably lax on the discipline front. Or at least, Naomi has a degree of freedom in her movements I can’t imagine giving a teenager. We see enough of her family situation to learn that her parents are very much in love, that Naomi isn’t allowed to drive, and that she’s pretty good on a skateboard.

After she commutes to school on her board, and gets mostly friendly waves and one odd look, she meets another friend, Anthony, and we hear something a bit more stereotypical: there are rivalries between the military kids and the “townies,” and Naomi seems to have friends on both sides of the divide. She’s also on the debate team. Team practice gets interrupted when the possibly less-fictional Superman is spotted downtown, apparently fighting a supervillain of some kind. Naomi takes off, leaving practice and skateboarding through the school, but doesn’t get to see much as she hears something odd no one else does and passes out. Recovering and oddly unconcerned about her fainting, Naomi interviews witnesses and they all agree it was some kind of amazing stunt. Naomi’s next stop is the local comic shop where she talks to, and flirts with, Lourdes, who works there. Naomi seems to have very wide tastes in her interests, but doesn’t learn anything more about the Superman sighting.

Getting home, Naomi has more domestic happiness with her parents, who are remarkably broad-minded on several fronts. Later, she investigates the site of the odd events, and finds a few things that make her suspicious. She talks things over with her friend Annabelle, and we learn some of the reasons Naomi is into comics. Meeting up with Nathan, one of her exes she’s still on good terms with, the two of them go over the footage of the Superman appearance, and are baffled as to what actually happened. Naomi notices something strange about one of the witnesses, and then, as she’s walking through town, we learn she doesn’t like everyone, as she has a very strong reaction to a local used car dealer. Naomi and Nathan go to talk to the man Naomi noticed, and get some very strange answers to her questions, and some stranger questions back. There’s clearly something odd going on here. Naomi returns home, prepares for a big debate she has coming up, and her parents continue to be unexpectedly nice. Maybe too much so.

The debate starts off well enough, but odd things start happening, and Naomi once again hears the odd noise and has another fainting spell. Considering this has happened at least twice now, her parents seem remarkably unworried. It also speaks well of Naomi that she told them about the first time, and isn’t indulging in the usual tv drama of needlessly, or ill-advisedly, keeping secrets. There was some odd talk earlier about the glasses Naomi wears, and she makes a decision about them, at least in the short term. Hearing there was another Superman sighting out in the woods, Naomi takes off to investigate. She goes alone, which is not smart, and wears a really impractical coat for the outing. In the woods, she finds some strange things, which she’s at least smart enough to document, has an odd run-in with someone we’ve seen before, and then some very unusual things begin happening. She gets some interesting advice with the great line of “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Things take a turn from believable, if odd, modern drama to something that seems more fitting to Nancy Drew (the original books, not the current spooky series) or maybe Scooby-Doo. Naomi assembles a group of friends, coordinates an after-hours operation, and leads them into an adventure. It’s an impressively diverse group and their plan works reasonably well, although they don’t find what they’re looking for and the place they went has some glaring security failures. Deciding she’s had enough, Naomi goes back to talk to someone she spoke with before. She (and us watching) was sure he wasn’t telling her everything, and that proved to be correct. It’s the oddest scene of the show, and she sees a lot of things she really can’t explain, as she gets some non-answers and new questions. It’s an interesting place to leave things.

What I liked: A lot of teen drama and superhero show tropes don’t show up at all. It was nice not seeing several cliches. While she seems almost perfect and too good to be true at times, Naomi is an interesting character. I’m intrigued by the opening mysteries we see, and don’t really have any theories about what’s going on, or none that I feel confident about. I was very intrigued by the final scene.

What I didn’t: Things seem a bit too perfect on a few fronts. This is early on, and there may be ways to explain it, but so far, it seems odd to say the least. I’m giving them some time to delve into the weirdness that, on the face of it, doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m really hoping they explain the fictional Superman thing.

I’m interested and curious to see where they go, and I’ll stick around for a while at least. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5, and we’ll see if they go up or down.